Multilingualism in Algeria: educational policies, language practices and challenges

by Siham Rouabah

21 Jun 2022
Journal of the British Academy
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Number of pages
20 (pp. 21-40)

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Abstract: Recent language policy developments in Algeria have attempted to promote multilingualism through encouraging foreign languages (French and English), acknowledging Tamazight as an official language and incorporating it into some regional schools. However, the competition between the official languages and the ‘foreign’ ones even in educational settings continues to (re-)shape the sociolinguistic profile of the public domain. This paper discusses these language policies, how they are reflected through language practices inside and outside the classroom, the challenges facing multilingualism, and the politics behind it. The analysis highlights the link between language practices and the lack of social justice and equal access to resources and power. Informed by onsite fieldwork, including questionnaires, interviews, and ethnographic observations, the study discusses the wide division of opinion in relation to these ideologically driven policies and socially constructed practices due to their connection to issues of identity, nationalism, (de-)colonialism, and globalisation.

Keywords: Multilingualism, language practices, policies, power, identity, nationalism, (de-)colonialism, globalisation.

Article posted to Journal of the British Academy, volume 10, supplementary issue 4 (Rethinking Multilingualism: Education, Policy and Practice in Africa).

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